Iowa State University

Satish Udpa, Electrical and Computer Engineering, (515) 294- 8180
Teddi Barron, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-0262
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University electrical and computer engineering research team received $350,000 in research funding to develop new technologies that detect external damage to natural gas and liquid pipelines.

The researchers will apply neural computer networks to improve the accuracy and reliability of interpreting data collected by pipeline inspection devices called "smart pigs." The team also will investigate the feasibility of using new electromagnetic methods for detecting stress corrosion cracks, which occur in pipelines under certain temperature, stress and soil chemistry conditions.

The funding is part of a $1.9 million, two-year research contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio. Iowa State and the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, are subcontractors to Battelle in this project.

The three institutions previously cooperated on similar research which was funded by the Gas Research Institute, Chicago, and involved technology used to inspect pipelines that carry natural gas.

The Iowa State research team includes Distinguished Professor William Lord, Professor Satish Udpa, Associate Professor Lalita Udpa, visiting scientist Yushi Sun and post-doctoral fellow Shreekanth Mandayam.

"The single largest factor contributing to pipeline incidents is mechanical damage from construction excavations or natural causes like ground movement," Satish Udpa said. "We want to determine if a pipeline has suffered damage from outside forces without excavating it."

The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees the nation's network of more than one million miles of pipelines.

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Diana Pounds, University Relations,
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Revised 8/19/96